Brad Pamp has the ground rules on choosing sneakers.
When you’ve decided to re-enter (or, for that matter, enter) the sporting life, you’ll need a pair of trainers. Same goes when your current pair is ground into asphalt dust or you change your style of exercise.
Shopping for new sneakers is, let’s face it, awesome fun, but it can be a daunting or expensive exercise, especially if you choose the wrong model for your needs. The considerations are: what you will use them for; your body shape and weight; history of injuries; your bio mechanics (how your feet make contact with the ground); budget; safety; and fashion.
Here’s a discerning shopper’s guide.
SELECTING A JOGGING SHOE
Those who enjoy a steady-paced jog should look for a shoe with heel cushioning. If your foot tends to roll inwards (pronation, or inversion), choose a shoe with strong medial support, which means harder material on the inside plane of the sole. This will discourage suspect knee joints from rolling inwards. If you weigh more than most people you should seek out a heavy-duty shoe. Some brands specialise in heavy athletes.
SELECTING A RUNNING SHOE
Runners generally land on the balls of their feet. Consequently, a flatter, less bulky heel would be more appropriate. A lighter, less stable shoe will suit a leaner and smaller body frame.
CROSS TRAINER (GENERAL GYM USE)
Because of safety concerns such as dropped weights, a more heavy duty shoe with a leather upper is required for general gym use. It should also be able to cope with short jogs.
SPORT WITH LATERAL MOVEMENT
Specific support is essential in activities such as basketball, touch football or tennis. The shoe must offer significant lateral support and strength to prevent excess lateral movement of your foot. This will support associated joints — knees and hips.
EXPENSE DOESN’T MEAN A BETTER SHOE
There are some very expensive so-called training shoes that are bio mechanically dreadful. Generally speaking, the fewer weird and wonderful gadgets and attachments the better. Remember, your technique and form are more important than what shoe you wear. Learn to master your technique and the likelihood of injuries will be considerably less.
If the shoes look like something out of Star Trek, with plastic side panels, bubbles, air pumps, springs and hollow inserts, then don’t even dream of using them for human movement. Should you choose to do so, your expense doesn’t stop with the $250 price tag. The appropriate tracksuit (pants only), muscle shirt and baseball cap are also vital purchases…along with the physio bills should you go for a run in them!
1. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila won the marathon wearing a pair of…nothing. He repeated it the Tokyo Games in 1964.
2. Adi Dassler started making sports shoes in his mother’s laundry in Germany in 1920. The first tennis shoe was produced in 1931.
3. Puma was formed by Rudolph Dassler and his brother, Adi, but the partnership split in 1948. In 1968, Puma became the first shoe company to use Velcro fasteners on football boots.
4. The prototype for the waffle sole, which was made popular by Nike and is still popular with running designs for its improved traction, occurred when American Bill Bowerman poured rubber into his waffle iron in 1971.